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Practical Principles for Powerful Worship

Practical Principles for Powerful Worship

As I write this devotional, I have just finished leading over 150 men in a no-agenda, multi-day prayer summit at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. I was privileged to pastor this church until 2007. What the Lord planted during those years has been watered by some faithful leaders and God has given the increase. It has been an incredible sight to see so many busy, burdened men take time out to seek the face of God in Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based prayer.

Next week, I will have the joy of leading another prayer summit in Northern California that will mark 25 years since we held our very first one with the dear saints I was pastoring there. Again, this will be a profound and free-flowing experience of personal transformation as scores of believers from around the nation take significant time away to seek the Lord together. As I often note, “God is always glad to oblige when you give Him your undivided attention.” Indeed, the Lord always works uniquely and powerfully in this multi-day event where we set our hearts to worship the Lord freely from the Scriptures and in united song and intercession.

What About Your Worship?

As you read this, you probably have not experienced either of these prayer summits. You may have never even been to one of these multi-day worship experiences. Yet, I guarantee you that you have been worshiping all week long. As Paul Tripp has noted, “You cannot divide human beings into those who worship and those who don’t. Everybody worships; it’s just a matter of what, or whom, we serve.”

Realizing this, it is imperative that we take quality time each day to worship according to the Scriptures. This can occur in the quiet minutes of the early morning, during moments of intentional focus throughout the day, or at a gathering of fellow believers. But, we must worship—consistently and passionately—as a lifestyle, according to the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and for the glory of Jesus Christ. John Piper has observed, “We belittle God when we go through the outward motions of worship and take no pleasure in His person.”

A Call to Growing Hunger

A failure to worship soon results in a diminished appetite for intimacy with God. A focus of daily worship fuels our love and willing sacrifice for Christ. As I have observed in these extraordinary prayer summit days, spiritual desire deepens and widens when we set aside concentrated time to adore and abandon ourselves before Jesus. Eugene Peterson noted, “Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God—it whets our appetite.”

A number of years ago, I preached a series on worship. The Lord used it marvelously and the summary points of that series still help frame the prayer summit experience. I hope they will likewise frame your worship today:

  • Worship is giving, not receiving. The question is not, “What did I get out of the service?” but, “What did God receive from me?”
  • Worship is participative, not passive. Worship is a verb, and by definition involves bowing down in order to attribute worth to God.
  • Worship is vertical, not horizontal. God is the audience. I am the performer, invited by His grace to offer a solo to Him. Everyone else is my back-up choir. My goal is not to appease any human onlookers but to bring pleasure to an audience of one—Him.
  • Worship involves attitude and action. It is experienced in my innermost being; but, to be sincere, worship must result in acts of sacrificial obedience.
  • Worship involves revelation and response. Worship is the Spirit-empowered response of all that I am, to the Spirit-inspired revelation of all that He is.
  • To worship “in spirit” involves possession of, submission to, and illumination by the Spirit of God. I cannot worship effectively apart from the absolute control and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
  • To worship “in truth” involves the truth of God revealed in creation, Christ and the Scriptures—renewing my mind and received in my heart.
  • The enemies of true worship are ignorance, idolatry, impurity and insincerity.
  • The end of true worship is five-fold: God is glorified, I am sanctified, the church is edified, the world is mystified, and the enemy is notified.
  • My private expression of worship on Monday through Saturday will determine the fullness of my experience of congregational worship on Sunday.
  • The models and moods of worship are many, making the potential of multiplied expression a wonderful possibility, which brings joy to His heart as our Father and exalts His marvelous diversity as Creator.
  • The musical and physical means of expression in worship are marvelous gifts of form, to be used to His glory and in accordance with His Word, to express the realities of our soul to God.
  • God’s great concern in worship, however, is not so much the act but the heart.

And to further inspire and instruct your worship, here are a few classic words of wisdom about worship to guide your pursuit today:

  • “I must take time to worship the One whose name I bear.” Oswald Chambers
  • “Whenever the method of worship becomes more important than the Person of worship, we have already prostituted our worship.” Judson Cornwall
  • “We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.” A.W. Tozer
  • “I am not worshipping Him because of what He will do for me, but because of what He is to me.” Warren Wiersbe
  • “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him.” A.W. Tozer
  • “Corporate worship is designed to remind you that in the center of all things is a glorious and gracious King, and this king is not you.” Paul David Tripp
  • “To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, and to devote the will to the purpose of God.” William Temple

So, come. Let us worship and bow down.

This article originally appeared here.

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As a lead pastor for nearly three decades, Daniel Henderson helped several congregations experience transformation and renewal through an extraordinary commitment to prayer. Daniel now serves as founder and president of Strategic Renewal and is the national director for The 6.4 Fellowship. As a “pastor to pastors,“ he leads renewal experiences in local churches, speaks in a variety of leadership conferences, and coaches pastors across North America and beyond. Daniel is the author of over a dozen books, including, Old Paths, New Power: Awakening Your Church Through Prayer and the Ministry of The Word, Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face, Transforming Presence: How The Holy Spirit Changes Everything - From The Inside Out, and Glorious Finish: Keeping Your Eye on the Prize of Eternity in a Time of Pastoral Failings.